Intro to State And Revolution – by Amanda S. Green

Intro to State And Revolution – by Amanda S. Green

After a couple of months reviewing HRC’s book, What Happened, I needed a break. I’d promised Sarah I’d continue posting on Thursdays for her (I’m a fan of her fiction and will do just about anything to give her a little extra time to feed my reading habit). But that left me with the question of what to blog about next. I’d initially considered doing Donna Brazile’s book but, to be honest, I simply couldn’t look at another book related to the 2016 election. So that leaves out the latest book blasting Trump and his administration. So, what to do? What to do?

It turned out the question wasn’t all that difficult to answer. It also turned on the 2016 election cycle, not to mention some of our current headlines. I’ll be honest. I’m not sure the results of the election would have been the same if the fix hadn’t been in. If Bernie Sanders had been the candidate or if Clinton had been smart enough to share a ticket with him against Trump, we might have seen a very different result and that scares the crap out of me. Why? Because all those who fall to their knees at Sanders’ feet don’t understand the reality of what he’s preaching. They don’t understand that socialism doesn’t work. They fail to recognize it quickly becomes a society of more equal among equals.

And that, my friends, is what set me down the path of the next few posts.

No, I’m not reviewing the new book today. Instead, I want to explain why I’ve chosen a book I doubt few of you would have guessed would be in the running. That book is State and Revolution by Vladimir Lenin. Yes, that Lenin. I first read it in the original Russian years ago. My Russian’s not that good any longer, so I spent time finding an older translation that hasn’t been updated to reflect modern “sensibilities”. I chose it so that the words of one of the founders of modern socialism and communism can be considered and discussed.

But those words need to be put into context. Russia in 1917 was rife for revolution. Tsar Nicholas II was anything but a strong, much less wise, leader. His wife, Alexandra, would do anything to save their son who suffered from hemophilia. The family fell under the sway of the “Mad Monk” Rasputin. At the same time, the country was going to hell in the proverbial handbasket and had been for some time. That is all historical fact and I won’t bore you with all the nitty gritty detail.

Where our understanding of Russia and Soviet communism and socialism fail is in how it manifested over the years and the kind of force that was required to keep it alive. No one disputes the fact that Josef Stalin was a tyrant. Yet, to listen to many, you would think the Soviet Union was a social and economic paradise. There are claims of no unemployment. The state provided medical coverage to one and all. You got your education. It was wonderful.

This is the portrait of Soviet society so many of our young people have swallowed. It is the basic portrait of a society that we could have here according to Bernie and his followers.

And it scares me to death.

A friend of mine was born in the Soviet Union. She spent much of her formative years there before her parents managed to escape. A man I respected more than most anyone and who I would trust with the lives of my loved ones spent much of World War II posing as a Muscovite peasant – without the Soviets knowing. I’ve been behind the Iron Curtain and talked with men and women who had to watch as their countries were turned over to Stalin and his friends as part of the Pottsdam Conference.

Much of what happened is on us and on Great Britain. Our leaders sat down with Stalin and drew a line on the map, giving him what we called Eastern Europe – and East Germany. It didn’t matter what the people living in countries like Hungary, Romania, Czechoslovakia and others wanted. We gave Uncle Josef what he wanted. Whether as a means of thanking him for taking our side against Hitler or to appease him and protect our Western European allies, it doesn’t matter. It is up to us to learn from what happened to those countries and their citizens after 1945 and learn from it.

No matter what anyone tries to say, those countries weren’t willing partners in the Soviet bloc. When Hungary rebelled in 1956, the USSR acted swiftly and decisively. By the time the revolution was quashed on November 10, 1956, more than 2,500 Hungarians had been killed and more than 200,000 had fled. The new government, the Soviet backed government, made sure there would be no other such rebellions.

Czechoslovakia waited until 1968 to try to fight for its freedom. They failed. Overnight, troops from the Warsaw Pact (USSR, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria and East Germany) rolled in. 137 Czechs were killed. More than 500 were wounded and the Soviet Union once more tightened its noose around the country’s neck.

Think about that. Think about having the boot of Communism bearing down on your neck, cutting off your pride, your freedom, your sense of individuality.

Let’s look at some of the misconceptions about life under Soviet communism/socialism. No unemployment. Pardon me while I call bullshit. What that meant was they had people sitting in chairs in museums sleeping. Or walking up and down the trolley lines with a stick. Sometimes those stooped old men and women might dig some dirt out of the tracks but mainly they trudged back and forth, a glassy look to their eyes. You had a job, but that didn’t mean you were “employed”. It just meant you were out of the house – maybe. And since all you had to do was show up and get paid, the USSR wasn’t producing much, so where did the money come from to pay all those “workers?” Well, sometimes they didn’t’ get paid at all, but salaries and resources were largely appropriated (read: stolen) from those considered “rich” who weren’t part of the “more equal among equals”.

Alcohol abuse ran rampant. Hell, you could buy vodka out of machines on the sidewalk, just as you could water. There is a problem when a country has the level of alcoholism the USSR did. The people used liquor to escape their miserable lives, and when they couldn’t buy vodka, they used whatever drugs they could get their hands on to forget where they were and how awful their existences were. By the time glasnost came about under Gorbachev, the USSR had one of the highest substance abuse rates in the world.

Medical care there was archaic compared to what we had here. The hospital I visited while there was one of the country’s best. Yet it reminded me of what our hospitals looked like 50 years earlier. Use of anesthesia for many surgeries was unheard of. My friend had both adenoids and tonsils removed as a child while she was awake and fully conscious. Think about that and tell me socialized medicine is something you really want.

But it didn’t stop there. Sanitization was a myth. I watched doctors and nurses performing procedures like changing dressings without gloving up. Heck, they didn’t even wash their hands after entering the room, touching the door, shaking hands, etc. I prayed I didn’t get sick while there because I did not want to risk Soviet medicine.

Of course, as with many nations with socialized medicine, there was another level, a higher level of treatment, available if you were high enough in the Party or had enough money (which meant being high enough in the Party). That medical care included things like anesthesia, better facilities, drugs appropriate to your symptoms and not having to wait until you risked death for treatment. It was another instance of being the more equal among equals.

Your quality of life in the Soviet Union, especially if you lived in the city, depended on your role in the Party. And, yes, Party membership was pretty much mandatory. But there was a Catch-22. Even though party membership was basically mandatory, it wasn’t automatic. If you were considered too bourgeois, or if your family had a history of being trouble for the Party, membership could and would be denied. That meant finding a job could be next to impossible. Want better housing? Forget about it. The Party had you by the short ones and there was little, if anything, you could do about it.

But even if you were “lucky” enough to be a member of the Party, that didn’t mean life was much easier. If you weren’t high enough in the Party, you got to join all your neighbors standing in line for bread or other things we take for granted. You couldn’t practice the religion of your choice. The only recognized religion was devotion to the State. Everything you owned was the State’s. Protests weren’t tolerated, and it wasn’t unusual for people to disappear from their homes at night, never to be heard from again.

This is the sort of world the Left wants us to move toward. Oh, they try to make it sound enticing by talking about all the “equality” and “freedom” we’d have. After all, who wouldn’t like to be worry-free when it comes to medical care, etc.? But reality is often very different from theory and that is especially true when it comes to socialism and communism. Why? Because people are people. Some of us have ambitions and want to do our best. Others want power and will do anything to gain it. Others are spiritual and want to be able to believe what they want and worship when and where they want without government interference. All of which means true socialism can never exist.

So, starting next week, I’ll do a couple of posts on Lenin’s State and Revolution. I have no doubt, I’ll be comparing what he wrote with what Bernie and his followers preach.

Until later.

[For raising the tone of this blog — ATH is culture! — and helping me with the exposing of the roots of the current mess — in her case with more facts! — if you decide to  Send the woman a drink–  And her Amazon author page is here -SAH]

326 responses to “Intro to State And Revolution – by Amanda S. Green

  1. This will be interesting to hear about. History is needed to be properly learned and some of the best ways is from the horse’s mouth. Those that were there, or had a ‘vision’. Can’t wait.

    • I’ve always believed that. It is why I originally read this, as well as a number of Lenin’s other works, in Russian. I don’t trust translators, especially not in this day and age when things are being “spun” all too often.

      • Goes back to yesterday’s point about translation/interpretation. Which is why, it was pointed out to me in Saudi, you must read the Koran in the original Arabic; all other language versions being mere interpretations of the text. I suppose that’s why one must read Shakespeare in the original Klingon to appreciate all of his subtleties, as well.

        • Yep. Which is why I looked for an older translation — I really wish I could find my Russian version and that my Russian was as good as it once was.

          • I remember reading War and Peace back in 7th grade. Mom’reading group was discussing it endlessly. It took me a long time. I returned one one book to the library and checked out another. At first I just thought it odd that one edition had a Czar and the other a Tsar. But I went back to reread one of the big battles and it felt like a different book. That’s when I learned that all translations aren’t equal.

            • That was weird. Here I am sitting in Siberia eating lunch (Yamal LNG, Sabetta, Russia) and I can’t get back to ATH for 30 minutes after referring to Tsars in a comment. Too bad I’m not into conspiracy theories.

              • God keep the Tsar — far away from us.
                Whoever the Czar is these days.

              • Happened again! Wrote a comment about how my Latvian in-laws abhorred Comxxxxxism but were Hitxxr fans but it was lost in the ozone hole.

        • I’m not sure I want to find out what they’d say if one were to point out that the original was written in Aramaic not Arabic.

          • The original Koran? Really?
            Source, please, so I can use.

            • Unfortunately, it was an individual rather than something more easily cited. I’ll have to see if I can find my notes from my deployment, there might be more specifics there. (My chain of command was a little nutso… they decided since I was a linguist I could learn Arabic in the two weeks we had before we had to get on the plane… right? Got some interesting information before someone sufficiently high ranking sat them down and explained to them how all that works. They weren’t going to listen to mere enlisted people.)

              • One of the most important phases of any big war; getting all the officers who won’t listen to enlisted killed off.

                • The other half of that phase is eliminating all the BS artists and feather merchants infesting the enlisted ranks… Who’re usually enabled by that sort of officer in the first place, because the problem generally isn’t that they won’t listen to the enlisted guys or junior officers, but that they won’t listen to anyone telling them things contrary to their desires and fantasies.

            • Ibn Warraq’s “Why I’m not a Muslim” and his “What the Koran Really Says” essay collection. The article is a bit of a slog, because it wades into linguistics. There are other books, including Christopher Luxemburg’s one-volume analysis of the Arabic and possible Syriac and Aramaic meanings, but that’s really for people who are familiar with Arabic. I’m not, and it is a major effort to work through.

            • The scholar Christoph Luxemberg, who must publish under a pseudonym, argued that the original language of the Koran was Aramaic, and that many of bits which appear to be total gibberish are Aramaic.
              I did a long piece a good few years ago, speculating that Islam was not vibrant and growing — but was actually dying, and the apparent surge was instead an indicator of rage and denial among believers feeling the foundations under their feet beginning to slip.

            • *heh*
              Well, the earliest copies we have are in Arabic… because the guy who got it all organized ordered that all other documents be destroyed, so nobody would be confused.

              Here’s a little on that:

              I haven’t heard the Aramaic thing– but it would make sense, given the time and area, and the obvious at least folk-level familiarity with Christianity.

            • There’s a scholar who writes as “Christoph Luxenburg” (the need for a pseudonym is obvious), who claims that the Koran was cobbled together from texts in several related Near East languages, including now-extinct Sabian. All these languages used the same “Syro-Aramaic” script, which omits vowels or represents vowels with easily garbled diacritical marks.

          • They’d sentence you to death for blasphemy.

  2. “No one disputes the fact that Josef Stalin was a tyrant. Yet, to listen to many, you would think the Soviet Union was a social and economic paradise.”

    Where people seem to fall down here is in the belief that STALIN was a tyrant, and that the problem was the man rather than the system. Some of the most pathetic folks in my opinion are the Trotskyites–those who insist that the Soviet Union WOULD have been paradise if only the right man had won after Lenin’s death. The fact that Lenin was a murderous tyrant is lost on them. As is the fact that, while Stalin’s successors were an improvement on him, they were murderous tyrants too. And when one finally allowed a little freedom, the whole system came crashing down.

    • True. The original problem was with the system but the man made it worse. I am amazed that so few of those who spout off about the joys and wonders of socialism and communism haven’t clue one about the history of those countries and “leaders” they so admire.

  3. “to be honest, I simply couldn’t look at another book related to the 2016 election. So that leaves out the latest book blasting Trump and his administration.”

    Oh, but that one is fiction!!

    Recently read somewhere (this came from a Russian source) that the Soviet gov’t actively encouraged heavy use of alcohol and made sure that even if nothing else was available, vodka would be — because a drunk populace is a compliant populace. (They also tried to keep foreign visitors good and soused, to blunt their observational skills.) Putin has been making an example to the contrary — when everyone wants to drink during or after work, he sets his down and says no, not until after we’ve done everything Russia needs us to do. Really interesting to watch the body language of young men around him shift from “and now we’re going to get drunk and goof off” to “nope, cuz we’re still responsible adults”.

    • I have to look up Megan McCain’s interview of Wolff yesterday on The View. I hate that program but, from everything I’m seeing, she left Wolff speechless as she called him out on all the inaccuracies and misrepresentations in his book. On that same note, the little I’ve read of it has convinced me it is worse than HRC’s book. How it ever made it off an editor’s desk is beyond me. There are so many places where a simple internet search would have shown there was cause to be concerned. For example, iirc, he has John Boehner resigning in 2011, 5 years before he actually did.

      As for the Soviet government promoting alcohol use, yep. That’s been fairly well known for years. When I was there, I was amazed at the amount the average person consumed. It wasn’t unusual to sit down for a meal and have a water glass filled with vodka set before you. And, as I said, there were machines on the streets where you could get your “hit” if you wanted. As you said, a compliant populace was very much the goal for the Soviet government.

      • Well, trad pub editing ain’t what it used to be, and besides, anything anti Trump is a sure sell, at least in the minds of those deeply under TDS.
        As for the prevalence of alcohol for foreign visitors, a well soused tourist is that much easier to catch in a honey trap, don’t you know.

      • I have been leaning toward the idea that the Wolff book is a rope-a-dope by Trump (much like some of his tweets). Have someone put out something that is thoroughly outrageous and anti_Trump and easily debunkable, then knock it down when it comes out – after all of your enemies have committed themselves to it thoroughly.

        • I’d wondered the same thing but Wolff is soooooo sure he did the right thing and his facts are all correct — except where they aren’t — and we are all just jealous of him and his genius.

          • Last attempt is AWOL
            A willing tool, is a ready tool. Woofy seems ready and willing enough to be an easy mark.

          • It all depends on how you define Truth and Facts, don’t it? To quote an earlier journalist, this book is “fake but accurate.”

            • Who wants to cover the bet that the Trump administration pulled a Reagan-SNL on Wolff, where they set up an act for Trump to play the forgetful dolt when Wolff was there and could see, and the rest made sure their interviews touched on their worries about POTUS’ forgetfulness and mental state, as well as feeding patently untrue stuff as fact, in hope that Wolff would accept the role of the mark and bite on the con.

              Then they got advance looks that told them it had worked beyond their wildest dreams, and made sure to do everything they could to pump it up.

              If so, there must be must rejoicing.

              • I’ve been wondering something of the same sort myself – that Wolff was a mark, fell into a trap, and that DJT was trolling his opposition on a galactic scale.

                • BobtheRegisterredFool

                  Bannon was a key ‘source’, apparently. Is Bannon so loyal to Trump or The Cause that he would lose his last remaining job for such a thing?

                  I think if Trump had the foresight and spoons to pull that off, than he also should been able to manage at least as good differently.

                • I’d like to say that that’s going so far into internet-moon-landing-conspiracy craziness that it’s too much… but Trump made his chops dealing with the unions, politicians, and Mafia (but I repeat myself) in NYC and NJ, and…

                  • BobtheRegisterredFool

                    Point. I flat out do not understand how crazy of an environment that is.

                  • True, except Wolff also has so many easily verifiable facts — for ex. his assertion Boehner resigned in 2011 — either completely wrong or misleads about them that you have to wonder. It is possible he went in with the idea of doing a hatchet job, and was willing to do whatever was necessary to do so and Trump knew it and epically trolled him the whole time he was there.

    • ‘“to be honest, I simply couldn’t look at another book related to the 2016 election. So that leaves out the latest book blasting Trump and his administration.”

      Oh, but that one is fiction!!’

      Yeah, but so was the previous book about the 2016 election that Amanda read.

      • OMG, so true. I’m still trying to figure out how in the hell she lived through the same election cycle I did.

        • “trying to figure out how in the hell she lived through the same cycle I did.”

          I repeatably run into to that after speeches or debates, and after reporting analysis; Fox usually does a better job overall, because they have multiple reporters discussing from different political lens. But most the other networks, my response is generally yelling at the screen “Did you watch the same speech I did!!!!” Result is I have to watch the speeches and debates myself because I can’t depend on reporters DOING their jobs (and I hate/despise politics!). If I was reporting, the speech would be printed verbatim, along with the preprinted version presented to reporters before delivery, so readers could make up their own minds. THEN, only then, would editorializing/interpretation section be allowed. But I guess that would not be considered “reporting”.

          • This is why I watch CSPAN for such. Memo to news anchors: I form my own opinions, thank you very much.

            • I refuse to watch speeches. Some of those politicians are good enough actors to trigger suspension of disbelief. I read transcripts. That way I get the info without the delivery method.

              • I’m slightly different– I can’t watch the speeches because they bore me to tears. I’ve seen ONE guy who was enjoyable– Zel Miller, at the RNC in…what, ’04? And that was mostly because he was putting out the “Oldtime movie preacher” vibe so heavy it was delightful.

                But I watch even someone I AGREE with is just…boring. “hurry up hurry up SAY THE DANG STUFF!!!”

                • Listening to speeches is like watching the observer’s booth at a Soviet May Day parade. You look and listen for clues about what may be really going on, and some of that’s based on what’s not said.

          • The first time I witnessed obvious media bias was when the Lyin’ of the Senate, Ted Kennedy, made a campaign appearance in Hackensack NJ in the late 1970s. I was part of the crowd, hanging out at the edge with several other Republican high schoolers. The crowd didn’t come close to filling the square. And was mostly quiet, except for the Democrat partisans in the front with all their pre-printed campaign signs. And a few protesters, including one really loud one who managed to get up front, who kept yelling “Tell us about Chappaquiddick!”. Loud enough to be picked up and amplified by the on stage microphones. Any time the cameras swung that way the sign holders synchronized to cover him up. Almost no applause from the crowd.

            Next day’s reporting the Bergen Evening Record told about the overflowing wildly enthusiastic crowd with lots of applause and cheering and no protestors. They must have been at a different rally…

            • They must have been at a different rally…

              I remember, years ago, reading about a study done of protesters outside abortion clinics. While staff and customers were certain the protesters were extremely loud, independent measurement of the noise found it was only moderate, at most.

              It seems that certain messages seem louder than they are.

          • Remember Clint’s empty chair monologue at the convention 5 years ago? I watch it live and literally fell out of my chair laughing so hard. (Truly fell onto the floor) Then I read the papers the next morning with all the hand wringing about poor old Clint going senile and making a fool of himself.

          • I first noticed this in Reagan’s time. It got even more egregious during Bush Two’s tenure.
            There is a reason President Trump does his own thing media-wise.

        • Must have written the book in the Indiana Jones manner: made it up as she went.

    • The other reason they encouraged vodka…? The Imperial Russian government had traditionally derived a huge swathe of its funding from taxing vodka, which the Soviets continued. I think that a case can be made that Gorbachev may have screwed the pooch in terms of the Soviet budget when he started his crackdown on alcohol abuse, because that deprived the Soviets of a huge chunk of their budget… It was, by some accounting, bigger than income tax in terms of financing the government in Russia.

      Public policy wisdom is that you don’t finance your government on vice, or you’re gonna get an unnatural amount of vice in your country…

      Lots of people miss this little detail about Russian “traditional” alcohol use.

      • From everything I’ve read, by that time the Soviet economy was pretty much down the toilet and into the cess pool already. Maybe Gorby nudged it on amtiny bit faster, but very little difference.

        • It was in the toilet and racing down the sewer lines by then. Unless you’d been there and seen it in action — or inaction, which is much more accurate — you can’t imagine it. In the years before the Moscow Olympics, people were standing in line for hours just on the hope they might get a bottle of milk or, at another store, a loaf of bread. Finding fresh fruit was almost impossible. Mystery meat meant checking the area around your home or hostel or hotel for the dogs and cats you saw the day before. You very well might be eating them. The black market was vital. It only got worse. The State was all about outward appearances but they cared little for the common man.

      • Ironically, Tsar Nicky cutting off the vodka supply during WWI was one of the reasons he lost his office, and life.
        It was a good idea- a bit of austerity for the war effort- but they lost valuable revenue, and wound up with a lot of unhappy and sober Russians (but I repeat myself).

        • The thing you want to keep in mind at all times about Russia (and China, for that matter) is that it has almost always been run by shitheads…even more so than most polities. The Soviet and Maoist government were,merely extensions of several hundred years of treating people like farm animals.

        • One of many. His father left him ill-prepared to run the country and daddy dearest had done a piss-poor job of it himself. The war with Japan (1904-05 iirc) made things worse. Then there were the pogroms, the 1906 crack down on dissidents, the dissolution of the Second Duma in 1907 and things just went downhill from there. Add to that the distrust the middle and upper classes had of Alexandra, and especially Rasputin, and it was the perfect recipe for disaster — not only for the Romanovs but for Russia itself.

  4. Why? Because people are people.
    The progressives/socialist/communists just really don’t get what people are.

    • unprocessed Soylent Green

    • Heinlein, early on, had some truly optimistic hopes for psychological science. Too bad the field was overwhelmed by postmodern, anti-empiricist ideologues. Reality is not a social construct. Solipsistic fools, all of them.

  5. They forget that people are individuals and not all of us want to be led by the nose or told what to do and when to do it and how to do it 24/7

    • They also believe that people are perfectable. So, with enough indoctrination/education/training/regulation/manual labor they will become angels.

      Eventually some portion of those bits become gulags.

      • Not perfectible but programmable. That way they can put us in their predetermined slots.

        • Kirk: Damn it, Bones, you’re a doctor. You know that pain and guilt can’t be taken away with a wave of a magic wand. They’re the things we carry with us, the things that make us who we are. If we lose them, we lose ourselves. I don’t want my pain taken away! I need my pain!

          • Franklin: I can give you something for the pain.
            Ivanova: Oh, great. *Now* you can give me something for the pain.
            Franklin: What?
            Ivanova: Where were you when I was going through puberty?

      • The ones running the asylum don’t imagine people are perfectible — in fact, they rely on their not being so. They understand that so long as people are not perfect there is a great living to be made running asylums (so long as you don’t call them asylums.)

    • It ain’t like they’re the first batch. Every successive bunch of self-nominated Betters thinks themrest of us need to listen up and do what we’re told. It never works out. It doesn’t even work when objectively there’s something to what they’re saying. A lot of the so-called ‘Robber Barons’ were devoted to some kind of good works, and the only one that seems to have lasted worth a damn is Carnage’s spread of public libraries.

  6. And my sorta OT comment on yesterday’s post now has a better home, since you alluded to Wolff’s book.

    OK, on the publishing/readers/market front:

    Readers are angry because there’s nothing in the book about Trump.
    I’m alternating ROFL and SMDH. NeverTrumpers seem to not be the brightest bulb in the array.

    Maybe you should review *that* book, Amanda. 🙂

    • I saw that this morning and laughed my ass off about it. I have three or four books on my desk right now that might — MIGHT — be reviewed later. A biography of Hamilton by Chernow, the Donna Brazile book, Economic Facts and Fallacies by Sewell and at least one other. Now, I might just decide to review the infamous ET (no, not the movie). VBEG

      • I have Sowell’s Economic Facts and Fallacies — that one is worth reviewing and shouldn’t drive you insane in the process! (Well, I just took a quick look at my bookshelves, which are in serious need of reorganizing, and didn’t see it, but I know it was up there!)

    • This is SUCH a tragedy! I am SOOOOOO bummmmmed! (/sarc)

      • Authors seldom lose money catering to a group’s prejudices, and America’s Progressives have sooooooo many prejudices to which an author can cater.

        As the old joke goes, if Donald Trump walked on water, CNN, the New York Times, Washington Post and MSNBC would all blare headlines denouncing Donald Trump’s inability to swim..

  7. I took Russian from one of those 200,000 Hungarians in 1988… the beginning of the Gorbachev era was an… interesting time to be in her class.

    • Lucky you. I had a Hungarian refugee as a math teacher for Grade 12 math. Great guy, knew his stuff. Couldn’t teach worth beans and trying to understand his thick accent was right out. Only learned that he was an escapee through the school grape vine because it was never discussed or mentioned.

      • She discussed it quite a bit. Her experiences under the soviet system were all relevant to the class.

      • I have a friend from Hungary who is my age (around sixty) and has been in the United States since he was eighteen, and I still have a hard time understanding him!

    • I can only imagine. My first two Russian instructors were former military intel. Then there was the Russian who’d escaped Stalin’s Russia as a teen. Some of the discussions I had with them were more than interesting.

    • Dr. Li always wore long sleeves.. always. Not sure how it came up, but the reason was that the Chinese government really did not like that he made/modified shortwave receivers such that they had proper, full band coverage.

    • One of my best friends in elementary school was the son of Hungarians who’d fled. One in high school was the grandchild of people who’d fled Romania when the Communists seized control, and an acquaintance in high school had grown up in Soviet Russia. A few of my parents’ friends had parents who came over from Eastern Europe when the Communists took over. I’ve had math and history professors who lived in Communist Europe. The one thing all had in common: they hate Communism with a burning passion.

      • Oh yeah. Everyone who lived there for long — and who wasn’t high in the Party — pretty much does once they manage to get out. At least that’s been my experience.

        • I helped some visually-impaired former Ukranians fill out ballots at an election once (as a poll worker.) One gentleman (whose English was obviously good enough for citizenship, but whose comprehension still had some gaps) kept saying “I support the Republican Party!” when I asked him about each race, which is all well and good, except there were also ballot issues and smaller races without parties (like school board) on that ballot. Thankfully, he pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket with his choices before we got too mired…

          (A different lady was much easier. I’d read off the choices, she’d state her choice, I’d fill in that bubble. That was a crazy busy election—2004.)

      • I’m sensing a business opportunity: Little Red Summer Camps! Operated by people with REAL experience of life in the Soviet Union! These camps offer Bernie Bros and Sanders Sistas an opportunity to experience a delightful* recreation of life in the Glorious Revolution Against the Bourgeoisie! (GRAB!) in order to prepare themselves for the coming evolution into socialist society!

        Think of the fun and educational workshops and seminars that could be developed to ensure the campers get the full educational benefits of their two-week experience. Tuition only $10,000 and each camper enjoys communal living, a thousand calories a day and fully supervised activities.

        • For the full effect, they need to be in somewhere really, really cold.

          • And they stay in places without heating and a/c, bathrooms, when they work, are at least 4 floors from the floor they are staying on, they never know if the listening devices they find in their rooms are working or who is following them. Ooooh, there is so much possibility here.

            • Or the time you go to the camp is during the month they turn off the hot water to clean the system. Do they still do that in August in Moscow?

              • I don’t know but that reminded me of staying in Vilnius and learning there was no hot water. It was June and still cold at night/early morning. Making matters worse, I was on the 4th floor of the hostel and the only working bathrooms were on the main floor. By the time you got downstairs, you wanted hot water just to help warm up.

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          And a wall so that they can’t leave. 😈

          • I recall reading somewhere that some of the gulag sites did not have much in the way of walls or fences around the prisoner barracks, basically because they were so remote and so far north: If you wanted to go freeze and starve in the snow, the guards were perfectly happy to save them the effort of beating you to death incrementally.

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              True, but the “Worker’s Paradises” all had walls to prevent the Workers from escaping their Paradise. 😈

              • Just put it out of reach if Uber/Lyft and you’ll have an effective wall. (At least, when combined with the “really, really cold”.)

              • ISTR most generally had fences, not walls, backed with a large paramilitary patrol force. Something like the Berlin Wall was the exception.

            • Solzhenitsyn recounted one incident in which a prisoner working in a camp was shot and killed by a guard in a nearby tower because the prisoner accidentally crossed the invisible boundary that separated the camp from the outside world.

          • Won’t need a wall if we locate the camp somewhere on the north slope of Alaska. You want to leave? Anchorage is thataway a few hundred miles over the tundra and mountains. There’s got to be a few old WWII military training camps that can be retrofitted for that purpose.And a nice warm dacha for the owners and managers.

        • Oh, geez. I have a friend who grew up in a gulag who has experience running a summer music camp 7-12th grade. Russian by birth, now American. Piano professor (gets a kick out of ‘forbidden’ concerts, quite delightful-some music was banned in the USSR, naturally that’s the music she most wants to play. The last one was Gershwin, IIRC). If someone gets this started, she’d be the ideal consultant or possibly director.

          • Remember the movie, “White Knights”? Not a camp setting, but the circumstances were similar.

    • My German prof was from Austria, and saw the Soviet occupation as a child and teen, and helped Hungarian refugees get across the border in ’56. To this day she hates Eisenhower with a white-hot passion for not sending the US army into Hungary to save them, “as he’d promised to.”

      When I was in Hungary, the academic leader was a prof from Budapest. He’d had a front row seat to ’56, including neighbors leaning out the windows to drop Molotov cocktails on the tanks rumbling down the street below. He had a really interesting take on life under Communism.

      • I’ve got a game called “Days of Infamy” that depicts the ’56 uprising. Haven’t played it yet, so I don’t know if it’s any good. A “win” for the protestors represents Zhukov agreeing to a truce.

        That’s what happened historically, btw. Then a few days later, the Soviets came back. The game doesn’t cover that part.

  8. Here is one of my favorite books on Communism:

      • > the “warlike” Finns started difficulties for the “peace-loving” Soviets. They were actually shooting back! … The Soviets decided they would liberate only part of Finland.

        The Soviets were only trying to bring enlightenment and prosperity to the benighted Finns! It was for their own good! But the Finns were so uncouth and disorderly that they felt no gratitude at all…

    • Excellent.
      I wish someone could bring it up to date.
      And send copies to the New York Times.

  9. Interesting choice. I gather it is better in the original Ferengi.

  10. While the entries for this text might also perhaps call for a drink, for me any such will very pointedly not be vodka. It will always be something involving rye or bourbon… made by those free-market folks who have little use for imposition of nonsensical regulations and suchlike.

    • Quibble: ‘Shine could be called vodka, and it’s most definitely made by free-market folks who have little use for regulations.

      • Aye, but there is the matter of pride of workmanship (possible further quibble, admittedly) and flavor. And if I was to drink a vodka straight… it would be Belvedere – A rye based thing from Poland.

          • State owned.. or partly so.

            • Yep. Alcohol is pretty much a state monopoly here. There are no strong spirits made by a completely independent company, and the distribution is all through the state owned Alko stores. And with the attitudes of the general populace that will remain so for the foreseeable future. Generations of “teaching” about the ills of alcohol consumption did nothing to stop Finns from drinking, but any attempts to free making and distribution is always greeted with cries of indignation. Too dangerous, will destroy the nation, oh woe!

              Unmaking that kind of damage is probably possible, but it will not be possible to do it fast, probably not even in a generation or two. Because getting to this took several generations also.

            • But it is pretty good vodka, nevertheless. 🙂

        • I had the opportunity to taste Jack Daniels as it came from the tap. It was clear, tasteless, and a severe tongue-number (numbed my tongue gooooood).

          • The surprising thing about booze is that it picks up flavor and color from the container. Aging for booze is just the amount of time the wood components leech into the liquid.

            Really fascinating to this tea-totaler Some booze depends on containers that previously held other alcoholic beverages, and so it’s leeching out some of the components that soaked into the wood.

            Then there’s good ol’ fashioned rotgut, where flavoring is what you put into it.

            • Then there’s good ol’ fashioned rotgut, where flavoring is what you put into it.
              I had some cranberry moonshine. It didn’t taste much like the cranberries floating in it. Blecch.

              • ‘Shine is pretty much alcohol-flavored by nature. Pretty decent ABV, but depending on just how the distillation process works, you *can* get some. By adding the solids back to the mash before decanting, it’s like adding concentrated fruit juice to alcohol (still needs to be diluted before you drink it, mind). I’ve had pretty darn good blackberry shine, honey shine, and smooth applejack made that way.

            • Of course, the longer it sits in those charred barrels getting nice and smooth and mellow, the more evaporates from the batch.
              Which is why good single malts cost so much- but is so worth it.

          • The charcoal filtering and aging helps, but.. let’s just say I am not fan of Jack Daniels.

            • Before it became irrelevant (stopped in the early Oughts), I grew to prefer Jim Beam over Jack. OTOH, the last bottle of hard liquor in the house was Jaegermeister, so don’t use my taste buds as proof of anything.

              • I can agree some with the first part as I will drink Beam, but found it’s not quite up to being the bourbon in a mint julep. OTOH, with some German ancestry and many years in Wisconsin, Jaegermeister isn’t at all off-putting – though I admit most things calling for it tend to be “stupid college kid get drunk fast” drinks rather than something meant to be savored. Which probably explains its absence in the collection just now. Schwartzhog, which is similar but lacking the anise/fennel/licorice[1] (which means $HOUSEMATE doesn’t instantly declare it “yuck”) is more likely to be found.

                [1] Since I have absinthe, anisette, ouzo, and sambuca, the flavor is clearly not off-putting for me.

                • Grandpa Pete loved akavit, but I couldn’t handle the caraway flavor in something to drink. So much for Danish ancestry going to the tastebuds.(Actually, where the family once lived, it was German or Danish, depending on who won the most recent war. Eventually, $ANCESTORS said fuggit and moved to Jutland.) I rather liked anisette, and yeah, the Jaegermeister was served stand-alone.

                  • I do like akavit, too, but can see how it should be taken in small, infrequent doses. I’d seen a suggestion for an akavit Manhattan and while it works, it is decidedly a very occasional thing.

                • I need to find some good ouzo. Used up the bottle I brought back from Crete ages ago.

              • Jack Daniels tastes like Vanilla syrup to me.

                • If I remember the run-down of the chemicals involved– that makes good sense, I can “see” the similarity with vanilla extract, and I’m really sugar focused. (it radically changes the flavors involved to me)

                  Maybe that’s why they’re starting to do stuff like vanilla flavored JD?

            • Jack’s okay with a mixer. Not crazy about it straight up, with a bit of water, or on the rocks. On the other hand, if you’re unsure about the biologicals in the drinking water, tossing a shot or two of Jack in the glass and waiting a few minutes should fix that.

            • I like JD (and was surprised that I did). Especially the bottle of Single Barrel Select I have. Very nice and smooth, great flavors.

      • But shine isn’t made from potatoes. Then again, what was vodka made of before potatoes were available?

        • Good point – potatoes came from the Incans, so … Cultural Appropriation!!!

          This needs to be worked through. Scotch only for the Scots, no Tequila (no margaritas) unless you are Mexican, gin came from Holland to England with William of Orange, so it may be allowed the English or it may be an act of submission to imperialism. Rum’s roots in the slave trade make it impermissible for all …

          Wikipedia breaks bad news for thse whose ancestry derives from Sub-Saharan Africa:
          “Palm wine played an important social role in many African societies.

          “Thin, gruel-like, alcoholic beverages have existed in traditional societies all across the African continent, created through the fermentation of sorghum, millet, bananas, or in modern times, maize or cassava.”

          Clearly SJWs need to become tea-totallers … oh, wait a minute; teas come from very limited areas, don’t they? Best drink water, and none of those fancy imported bottled ones. In consideration of the environmental costs of bottled water they best adhere to the locavore code and drink tap or, better yet, crick water.

          • They should all be drinking “raw” water. It’s the only way to be non-appropriating.
            (After all, plumbing to bring you tap water would be culturally appropriating the Romans, wouldn’t it?)

          • Actually, teas come from everywhere — since “tea” is simply the liquid produced by pouring boiling water over plant material. See Sassafras, mint, willowbark, etc.

        • Various available grains. They nabbed the recipe from somewhere in Scandanavia and ran with it.

        • Vodka can be made out of most grains, I’ve also seen grape based vodka for sale.

    • I don’t know. At least one distillery here in TX makes a pretty damned good vodka. VBEG

      • Tito’s?

        (I know they’re very proud of it– as in there are a lot of commercials, and expensive shirts, which means people WANT to let folks know they drink it) and that they have good boxes for packing…..

        • Tito’s is pretty good; but I’ve always wondered about the “Hand Made” on the label.

          • Probably means they physically cart the ingredients or something, rather than a truck dumping potatoes into the system at one end and funny looking water coming out the other.

            Now I’m wondering….

          • Oh, that’s nifty– it means they haven’t updated their system since the guy started making flavored vodka for housewarming gifts in the 90s.

            Upgraded their equipment, yeah, but not the actual process. Which both makes sense in the niche market sense, and because a complete system overhaul that also keeps the same result is difficult and expensive.

          • Haven’t seen “Hand Made” but have seen “Gluten Free.” Yeah, I’d say ethanol and water are pretty much gluten free.

  11. Your AMZ link says that’s a 1932 translation. The one on says 1970. Most of the other copies I’ve found just say “1918”, which likely refers to the original untranslated text.

    I’ll look some more, otherwise I’ll follow along with the version.

    • The 1932 translation is pretty damned good. I looked at the one at Archive and it was okay but. . . .as for the others, yeah, it’s the original publication date.

    • Looked at your link and compared the opening paragraphs of the First Preface. It looks like this particular edition has taken some liberties to make the text more readable to native English speakers. The 1933 edition has kept more of the original syntax and construction which means it sometimes read a bit awkwardly. What I may do over the next day or two is compare easily available translations to see which is the more prevalent.

    • Spent the evening looking at different translations and even pulled my Russian text version of it out. The 1933 is the closest to the original that I’ve found so far. The others are translations with “interpretations” to make it easier for the modern reader. The basic gist isn’t much different between them but the effect, if that makes any sense, is.

  12. Lamaze (and by extension, just about every other birthing method) was developed out of Soviet “techniques” for giving birth. Because they didn’t have enough anesthesia, they told their women that they were “Strong, Russian Women” who didn’t need decadent methods to help with birth. You can breathe through it and turn out okay. French doctors saw that and took the breathing methods and turned it into Lamaze and thus started the “natural birth” craze.

    • You can also turn out okay if you don’t breathe. Hurts about the same. Tried it with first son, didn’t bother with second.
      OTOH I’m not very susceptible to hypnotism, even self-hypnotism.

      • A bit ago a meeting left me feeling a bit… off… psychologically itchy, you might say. I didn’t realize it right then, but back when I made some serious efforts at self hypnosis, I did what I could to install some safeguards (“Sure you can’t be hypnotized against your will, but you can be hypnotized without consent, which is just as ‘good’.” – paraphrasing Estabrooks, I think) and evidently they tripped. The prime speaker at that meeting had some curious ‘soothing voice’ bits and repetition (patter). I finally realized I’d heard that repetition and tone before — from a stage hypnotist. I suspect he’s a ‘Great Persuader’ who wonders what’s wrong with me since I was… not affected in the ‘correct’ way, but quite the opposite.

          • …made nice sounds, lacking any actual content.

            • Mark Davis commented once that a live event 0bama speech was amazing feeling, but as soon as he stopped talking, you couldn’t say exactly what he was talking about. Nothing he said ever sunk in.

              • I’m reminded of one of Asimov’s Foundation novels, wherein careful analysis of the ambassador’s speeches revealed there was, in fact, no content.

                • I’m reading a bunch of Laumer right now (the Megapack e-book, for one), and his Retief stories are so fantastic. I’m guessing he also used that sort of line somewhere.

                • Davis was at the nomination convention when he got that. Asking others what they thought of the speech got loads of praise on how great it was, and how great a president he’d be, but when he asked then what he talked about,what part of it was their favorite part, what did he say that was great, he got only Hope and Change as answers if any at all. No one there could find any points in it so, yeah, no content.
                  empty suit,
                  empty chair
                  empty heads who gave us 8 years of that destructive ass

                  • Well, ya know how it is: you gotta be able to hear the dog whistles. Don’t mean you can repeat ’em, but they’ve got to have been heard.

              • I experienced exactly that in Obama’s early years. The speech would sound wonderful, inspiring, insightful…almost he persuadest me to vote Democrat…until I learned to quit listening to him.

          • …was an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.

      • We took Lamaze classes- and it was a good thing. My wife’s longest labor was 45 minutes. The bag popped on it’s own and she hit the call button in the bathroom on her way to the floor. For the next 4 they didn’t have time to administer any anesthesia. The problem we had was getting the doctors to understand that they should pop the bag in the delivery room.

        And I can tell you that listening to a woman scream who was dropped off at the hospital with NO prenatal care on record, and tales of painful childbirth passed on by elders who declared the pain to be God’s punishment for Eve’s original sin is no fun for anyone. I was asked by very pissed off corpsmen several times that night if I were the errant husband. Nope- he dropped her off and left. I can only wonder what happened to him later when they got ahold of him.

    • If you don’t breathe according to Lamaze. I did breathe. I mean, I’m alive.

    • And I am now reminded of Bill Cosby’s “Natural Childbirth” routine. 😀

      ::She stood up in the strips, grabbed my lower lip and shouted “give me morphine”::

      • You forgot the “and pulled it over the top of my head” bit. 😀

      • My godson’s mom swore up and down she didn’t need any epidural. She was tough gal. High pain tolerance. No drugs for her! Father of said godson was conspicuously absent.

        Lasted about ten minutes. Godson was *not* the tiniest infant (topped 10lbs if I recall correct). Immediately post birth, she had a book in one hand and godson in the other. *chuckle* It worked out okay.

      • Bill did have excellent humor; which most of America has conveniently forgotten. The biggest question I have is how many of those women he allegedly had sex with voluntarily and knowingly took the drugs allegedly offered? If he surreptitiously administered the drugs, then that was clear coercion and he should be hung for it. If not, they got what they came for.

        • My question is more along the line of ‘how many of them are telling the truth vs ‘how many are trying to cash in?’

        • Cosby was one of the leaders in exiting the ghetto — he made Whites and Blacks laugh together, recognizing a shared humanity. In I-Spy he proved White audiences would accept a Black man as equal to a White man.

          It was only when he went against the Liberal grain, telling Black audiences that they held a lot of the responsibility for their situation, that his personal morals became an issue.

          I know little about the milieu in which he allegedly committed his transgressions, but what I do know suggests there are many women who appear to be claiming they only went to the Playboy Mansion parties because the Algonquin Round Table was too far away. Given the number of women at those affairs and the known effects of female hypergamy, it seems improbable that Cosby would have to employ drugs to find a compliant bed partner.

  13. Pingback: History: Helping Understand Today - Nocturnal Lives

  14. I was in a bus after an event one day and ended up near some college students/older high school students. They had SF books in their hands, so we fell to talking, and one of them made some comment about how capitalism was a problem. (It was a lefty city.) Since the whole discussion had been cordial, I started explaining things to them something like this:

    In any system, you’re going to have a certain percentage—let’s call it 10-15%—of folk who will always try to do the right thing. And you have about the same percentage who will always try to do the thing that benefits them best. That leaves the big middle of people who will tend to do what is easiest, so a good system will make the right thing the easiest.

    One of the biggest problems with any group of people is the freeloaders. Now, this can take place at every level of society—certain corporate welfare is designed that way, to be sure, but have you ever had someone in your group project who lets you do all the work, but still gets the credit? [at this point I saw the gleam of “oh, YEAH” in their eyes] So the best systems will discourage freeloading.

    How do you prove your life has value? In our system, we trade our time for money. The money is a symbol of the value our life has to us, so we can trade it back for other value. If you don’t have some sort of symbol, it’s easy to ignore the value that someone else places on their life.

    The problem with communism is that it doesn’t have a symbol, per se, but just assumes the value. [remember, I’m explaining this to folks who have never heard specifics before.] And things that are assumed can be ignored, because we’re people. And with no difference between working hard and freeloading, all of the incentives are to freeload.

    The worse problem is that there is still work that needs to be done, lest everything fall apart, and this particular system setup is geared to draw in the people who will do the thing that benefits them best, regardless of whether it’s right or not. So you have a situation that both encourages freeloading *and* getting people into power who really don’t have anyone else’s best interests at heart.

    [I finished up with some variant of “it’s the worst system except for all the others” as a quote, and they thanked me, and it was so much the opposite of what would have happened on the internet if I’d done the same thing that I was floored. I think they actually took me seriously and went on to think about it. I hope that their critical thinking skills have grown and developed since then, because they sounded like nice kids.]

    • they sounded like nice kids

      Those are the sort most susceptible to social pressure, and an example of why the Democrats and MSM (But I Repeat Myself) put their propaganda emphasis on “Conservatives are meeeeeeeean!”

      We expect you will be much happier as a grown-up, although the transition is admittedly uncomfortable.

    • Outstanding. A teachable moment, and you seized the carp (or something).

      I achieved something similar (well, “achieve” might be a strong word) recently, when someone online (who is a reflexive Democrat) went off on someone displaying a confederate flag. They just knew that person must be a racist bigot. This despite the person clearly explaining it under the pic, that they didn’t support slavery and weren’t a Southerner, but they really hated self-righteous PC folks.

      So, I asked questions and probed and got her to label me a racist. Which had her start walking it back a little. Then I could give her some nuance about the deeper roots of the Civil War. (Thinking about it now, I missed the opportunity to call it the War of Northern Aggression, dagnabit.) Well, we agreed to disagree on some things, but she actually listened.

      Then she told me later that she talked to a friend of hers who is a history professor. He backed up some of my statements, and gave her a list of movies to watch. (Well, she isn’t a terribly intellectual person. Hence, her reflexive positions.) Just maybe, she’ll learn something.

  15. Christopher M. Chupik

    Just be sure to shower after.

  16. Looking forward to reading this. I’ve always intended to go back and read some of Lenin’s writings convinced that it might help shed some light into today’s politics. Now I may not have to! 🙂

    • It always intrigues me to read the source material. The only thing I haven’t been able to work my way through from front to back is Mein Kampf. It might be my own personal prejudice against Hitler and Nazism. It may be the writing — duh. But I managed to get through Marx easier than I could that bunch of ramblings.

  17. I look forward to your write ups, Amanda, should be interesting.

    I took history degree at Canadian university twenty five years ago, and in my last year i took a fourth level seminar with three other people and all we did was study Russia in 1917. It was twelve week course and we discussed one month per week for three hours, it was heaven, I wish more of my university experience was like fourth year seminar courses I had to take.

    Russian ‘joke’ from 1980s – “So long as the bosses pretend to pay us, we will pretend to work.”

    • That would have been an awesome course. The decade leading up to 1917 is a perfect example of hindsight being 20-20. From the uprising in 1906 in, iirc, Novgorod, to the First and Second Dumas to the October Revolution, the writing was on the wall. So was the split and splintering between then Mensheviks and the Bolsheviks. It is a very interesting period of time, one we should all be more familiar with.

      • From when I took a class on modern Russia before the revolution, it seems to me that the writing was on the wall when Paul I made the succession only to males after Catherine’s death. As I remember it Alexander II was the only Tsar between Paul and Nicky MkII that didn’t have his head completely stuck in an inappropriate orifice.

  18. The most effective argument I’ve ever made with younger folks about socialism and communism not working…?

    “You know how group projects in school go, right…? Don’t you just love those, and how they always wind up working out…? Now, imagine the entire economy and country being run like that.”.

    You usually get sudden, wide-eyed horror as a reaction, once they connect the dots…

    • Unless they are the one that slacked.

      See that with a lot of the “imagine what if free health care or guaranteed income” folks. “I’d be able to do art, or travel, or etc”. While my expectation is a 10-20% drop in disposable income because I’d be part of group paying for it.

      • Initially 10-20%, if we’re lucky. It would go up. As would inflation. Services would disappear. As would shelf stock and variety (of *everything*). Then the dying would get going…

        *shakes head*

        It is instructive to note, no matter how bad things have been or we might worry over… They *are* that bad elsewhere. We’re the lucky ones. Well, luck in that sense of we have to work to earn it and maintain it.

        • One of the few things that helps me keep going is that we haven’t yet hit Heinlein’s “Bad Luck” yet. Maybe

    • My daughter found that the college students with part-time jobs all contributed more than the full-time freeloaders, er students.

    • I’m stealing this!

  19. The Progressives never learn. While any particular object lesson is going on, they strenuously deny that anything bad is happening…..right up until they can’t anymore. And then they forget the lesson as quickly as ever they can and make excuses when you try to pull them back to it.

    “Stalin’s Russia wasn’t real Socialism.”

    It strongly resembles every attempt since, damnit.

    They don’t learn. They don’t WANT to learn. Because at base they are a bunch of minor intellectual flunkies whose only chance to be on top is in a system where minor intellectual flunkies are running things. And if that system doesn’t work, they will have to just accept that all they are good for is shuffling paper in systems thatreward people who actually THINK or actually WORK.

    • Then there’s the great Socialism Bait & Switch- they way they sell Marx to the Dumb Masses.
      Like the unethical property developer who uses photos of some other place to sell swampland, the Left uses Magic Scandinavia as the postcard vision of the place where Socialism Works! Because they actively conflate “the thing that Stalin, Castro, and Chavez do” with “what the Cool Scandinavians do” using the word “Socialism”.
      Now, the great thing the Scandinavians have* is more akin to a gated residential community with lots of onsite services- lawn service, health center, dog walking, ect. And a high monthly services fee to boot. But there’s still private ownership.
      That’s what they sell you. But what you get is American Section 8 public housing. You don’t own it, and it turns into a craphole.

      *Pohjalainen can probably go into more detail

      • Plus iirc someone drilled down into the comparison numbers people pull between the us and Scandinavia. If you compare similar populations happiness and life and the rest that are always touted as why Scandinavia is superior are the same or higher in the US. It’s a statistical error where mixtures affect the final polls more than the raw numbers.

        • Plus, while not a part of Nato, Sweden has benefited- as has most of free Europe- by having the lion’s share of their defense being shouldered by the USA.

        • There is a tendency to overlook that Scandinavia not only has small populations, they are highly homogeneous, exhibiting a high degree of familial connections.

          Thus anybody citing Scandinavia as example is clearly raaaaacist.

      • And the answer is ‘the Scandinavians did ok. Just ok, while they were not doing a whole lot of Socialism. As the amount grew, the success dropped. And now they’ve let in a bunch of Islamic refugees, who are screwing everything to hell.”

        • Kind of like if your HOA decided to house the homeless in any empty homes in the community. A beautiful thought, until the houses start getting trashed, crime increases, and the place goes to pot.

          • In Colorado and California, they start with the pot, then trash the house and increase the crime rate.

      • Except when they start letting in hordes of freeloaders who hate their system like the Swedes did. /shakes head

    • Terry Sanders

      Like the capitalist equivalent:

      I once wrote a piece for someone else’s series, in which the SPACE OPERA!! hero’s Menace of the Week was an organization dedicated toetaking over every major corporation in the world and installing leadhip that would run them properly.

      They called themselves S.I.M.B.A. The Secret Illuminated Masters of Business Administration.

      It wasn’t taken up for the series. I keep trying to figure how to file the serial numbers off properly…

    • “Stalin’s Russia wasn’t real Socialism.”

      Of course not. Just like Mao’s China wasn’t real socialism. Or the Kims’ North Korea. Or Chavez’s and Maduro’s Venezuela. Or whoever was in charge of turning Vietnam and Cambodia into hellholes.

      Under real socialism, there is no tyrant. Everyone shares everything because they all believe in it. And all of the work gets done, because responsible adults always do what needs doing whether anyone will pay them for it or not. Also, the birds chirp out a rendition of “Whistle While You Work” as the squirrels help with cleaning, power plants are run with cotton-candy scented unicorn farts, air-born pigs take care of running the postage office, and everyone enjoys the weekly performances of the Icecapes hosted by Lucifier and friends.

      • Can work in a small group, where everyone has the same ethic, and they have the ability to expel anyone who doesn’t. What they don’t realize is the larger the group, the greater the probability that some won’t hold that ethic, and the less space available to expel non-conformists to. Which is why it would be a very bad thing for our entire planet to have happen to it before we develop fast interstellar travel capability. When it becomes impossible, or at least not cost effective to expel them, they start punishing or executing the non-conformists, unless said non-conformists manage to seize control of the regulating functions and then parasitize the rest.

        • the larger the group, the greater the probability that some won’t hold that ethic

          The more some won’t hold that ethic, the greater the incentive for others to discard it.

    • That’s what the USSR kept saying: they had not yet reached true end-stage communism, and during the transition, they had to take steps that would not be necessary in the future and just bear with them a little longer… Thus the name Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

      Yeah, pull the other one.

    • They don’t want to learn and they believe they are so much better than those before them. So of course their socialism will be better than any we’ve seen to this point. They also have a set of blinders that prevents them from seeing how their wonderful socialized medicine is not working in most places or how their distribution of wealth only helps the more equal among equals — and the state.

  20. This post is looking like work. I must do some Real Life and then hit it hard later.

    Thanks Amanda! ~:D

  21. I’ve been re-reading some Marx for that reason. In English this time, due to other duties and domestic distractions, but ugh. He doesn’t get any better, and my tolerance is decreasing. I kept arguing back at him through the entire “Communist Manifesto.”

    • I read THE COMMUNIST MANIFESTO once, in high school. I was kinda curious to see if there was anything to it beyond what you pick up by paying some attention to politics in the US.

      So far as I can remember, there ain’t. Marx clerely froze his brain in the British museum.

      • Yes. Even when he wrote it, historians knew more about the Middle Ages than manages to seep through in his account of history. And that’s just the facts-on-the-ground, not ideas about economics et al. And it is amusing how he will state a question, then not-answer it while declaring that he answered it and won the debate. Just like politicians on TV today.

    • LOL. As I read the first introduction to State and Revolution last night, comparing different “translations”, I was doing the same thing. I kept looking at what Lenin wrote and thinking about the irony of it all, especially in light of what’s happened with the USSR/Russia since the October Revolution.

  22. I’m afraid that you are going to give Bernie Sanders too much credit.

    For background, since the election I decided to try to befriend people everywhere along the political spectrum. (After all, echo chambers are bad.) As I result, I followed Bernie Sanders.

    Previously, I thought Sanders was well-meaning, concerned about the working class, but extremely naive. Well, after following him for a while, I was extremely shocked.

    Let me be specific. On January 3rd, Sanders posted on Facebook “Iceland just became the first country in the world to make it illegal to pay men more than women.” Really now. So, we are to believe that Sanders, who claims to be deeply committed to equal rights, is entirely unaware that pay discrimination by sex has been illegal in this country since 1963? Or is it better to think that Sanders is aware of this and is deliberately lying?

    But it gets worse. Sanders wrote a post stating “No one working full time in America should live in poverty.” And what was this post about? It linked a video stating that “There is no state in America where a full-time minimum wage worker can afford a 2-bedroom apartment.”

    No, that’s not a typo. Bernie Sanders thinks that living in less than a two-bedroom apartment is “poverty”. Really! I think that goes to show how entitled he is.

    A two-bedroom apartment is meant for a couple with at least one child. Sanders thinks that a minimum wage worker should be able to afford such a place all by himself! I really don’t know what to say about this, except that it is shocking that such a person should be an elected official!

    • I am so amused that they are actually investigating his wife’s role in bankrupting that college.

      Here’s why the feds are investigating Bernie Sanders’ wife Jane
      The wife of Sen. Bernie Sanders is under federal investigation for her role in a land deal that went bad, and the Vermont senator has slammed reports of the investigation as “pathetic” and believes his wife to be “the most honest person I know.”

      Because Sanders hasn’t ruled out a presidential run in 2020, any federal investigation has the potential to become disastrous or, at the very least, politically embarrassing. And because the scandal touches on the themes of education costs and six-figure severance packages – two issues that were central to Sanders’ populist message – discussing the investigations at all could tarnish his brand as a champion of the little guy.


      Sanders, the wife of U.S. Sen Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., appears to have counted [donor Corinne] Maietta’s bequest as a cash gift that was available as collateral to finance the land deal. The 2010 loan agreement says “CBM” pledged $1 million to the school over five years in increments of $150,000, with a final payment of $100,000 in year six.

      In an interview, Maietta was incredulous that Burlington College would try to use her bequest to secure a bank loan. “You can’t borrow money on the future,” she said. “That doesn’t exist.”

    • “No, that’s not a typo. Bernie Sanders thinks that living in less than a two-bedroom apartment is “poverty”. Really! I think that goes to show how entitled he is.”
      And don’t even get him started on the price of arugula!

    • Gah, lost my comment in the ether. Basically, I give Bernie no credit. He’s a snake oil salesman who talks a good game but doesn’t follow through. I’ll believe him and his so-called socialist stance when he divests himself of his wealth and lives like the “common man” he supposedly advocates for.

      • Yes. Once Bernie & wife has ONE apartment, in ONE city, and is living paycheck to paycheck on minimum wage. THEN I might listen to him.

        Our son makes slightly more than minimum wage; generally 40+ hours a week, except over holidays. Locally, and rents in our area for decent housing is not out of line compared to other area, he can’t afford a house or studio (let alone 2 bedroom) apartment without roommates. Since situations change, this means revolving roommates and all the baggage/Russian-roulette that implies, being a non-smoker or drinker, or user of legalized substance otherwise nationally. He does have stable housemates in a 3 bedroom house, that doesn’t mind pets, nor uses any substances; and only see him on weekends. Housemates will also raise holy H*LL if he suddenly disappears … [FWIW pays his own expenses and lives at home. Only child.]

        • I am not so harsh; I am agreeable to Bernie retaining ownership of his homes. But i do think he ought take in some homeless families rather than having so much excess space, especially in his second home.

          In the name of reducing inequality, of course.

          • Good point. Going to add, both of them working minimum wage, unable to get full time AND required to have family roommates, one family group per bedroom, to help pay rent. Except most decent landlords won’t allow that many people per unit. Most have max occupancy requirements. Which makes it difficult for large families to rent, with or without pets.

            • FWIW. Did not grow up in poverty, although I’ve seen the one-room “cabin” with no indoor plumbing, and water was down the hill across the road, from creek, my grandparents lived in with a toddler and newborn, in Montana … no thank you; same grandparents whose creditors got $.05/$1.00 owed when they passed away (good thing debits owed are not inherited, they’d have bankrupted through to their great-great-grandkids). But neither were we rich. After college, spouse and I had to borrow money from parental units to be able to go to work. Then we lived to one salary, saving the other for preparation for down times; and there were more than a few that we’ve weathered. Never came close to trouble until the salary we lived to was the higher one, and that one went away. Reining in expenses is more difficult than it looks from the outside, and we don’t live extraneously; sometimes timing sucks. I’ll be darned if someone will decide now that we “have too much” and have to share. Especially someone who nets more in a year (month?) than our entire net worth!

      • Which part of his wealth, his second house or his third one?

        And that is my response to most of the ‘people have too much’ ‘progressive’ congresscritters who have well-above-average homes both in their districts and in DC. Sorry, I think their DC housing should be a nice but small apartment and they shouldn’t even own a house in DC. Many years ago someone was talking about the idea where cingresscritters’ housing in DC should be repurposing some of the empty but then-modern barracks on Andrews AFB, and i still think its a good idea. The barracks on the AFB in Sacramento were turned into nice apartments, they should do the same on Andrews and include their little single apartment with their salary, this ending the whole “but we have to own two houses!!!!1!!!one!!!” argument for congressional salaries.

        I would say that congresscritters should be using secure electronic voting, but i think they’d screw that up, too.

        • Put congress into the VA for health care, too.

          • and do not let them use their own names so they don’t get preferential service.

          • though that will also protect a few of them from retribution, I’m sure.

          • I was thinking providing apartments about equivalent to on-base housing for Army captain or major … and requiring them to live in those, with similar stipends. Maybe make senatorial housing equivalent to major/lt. colonel since they’re expected to remain for six years.

            • That was one of the suggestions that came out of a Navy gab-off— but we noticed a major issue, which is already happening: it’s a LOT easier to increase officer pay, especially high-up officer pay, than to increase, oh, Chief’s pay.

          • no. Medicaid.

            • Medicaid is one of two government programs (the other being Head Start) which have been demonstrated to provide zero, nada, 0, bupkiss benefit.

              But they let Proglodytes imagine they are doing something, and provide lots of sinecures for bureaucrats and rake-offs for crooks, so they are likely to be around forever.

              One more item for the “If only we had an honest MSM” file.

  23. Most of my acquaintances who suffered under the marx pox, were from Asia. I knew a kid who raced bicycles. I first met his dad, who was always in a beater pick-up, ratty clothes, and did drywall work. When i worked in bike shops, he’d come in, buy a bike and have us assemble it, then repack it for shipping to ‘Nam. There I learned while he was able to leave, the commies were holding the kid, and making him pay for all his training and equipment, and bribes etc.
    One day he walked into the shop with a massive smile an older teen. I pointed and asked “You were able to get him out?” and he nodded, choked up a bit, and said he finally saved enough to bribe the right people to get him out (ever notice commies hate America, but love its money?) and though the kid could speak little English, within a month, he and his dad had nice new Ford trucks, were busy as beavers doing drywall, and the kid had me build the most expensive wheels I did ($800 just for the parts in 1980’s money).
    The next man I met from there had been a General in the army, and when Saigon fell, he managed to get all his family onto the helos leaving, but they got separated. He also didn’t make it out, but was hid by a friend, then he walked at night, hid by day, until he got to Thailand and was able to get to the USA. Then he spent a couple years rounding up the family, and they had a restaurant somewhere in N.O.
    Then, I had a customer in Morgan City, La. that another customer of mine knew well and told me much of his background. He had parents too close to the Americans, so after the fall he was sent for reeducation, managed to survive that (his parents did not), and, in the 80’s somehow got over here, but they kept his wife. So for years, he worked for a Firestone store and only wore the work clothes they provided, ratty tennis shoes, and lived in a super cheap boarding house. Again, all his “extra” money went to Vietnam, to ensure his wife was at least alive. Finally he also managed to get her over here, and I met him when he had just started his own business, and they had two kids.
    In Texas, I had a Cambodian co-worker who’s family had gotten out just ahead of Pot’s mobs. His dad was a farmer, known for getting his fruit in sooner, and grew better stuff than many of his neighbors, so they were jealous. So, they tried to feed the croc by turning him in to try and appease the Rouge. They got out by the skin of their teeth, and those who tried to turn him in seem to have been among those killed by the Rouge.
    Yeah, for some reason, none of these people have any love of the leftoids, and socialism/marxism/maoism.
    of those not from Asia:
    I also have relatives in the Czech Republic. We connected with them before the fall of the Curtain, and after the fall, they mentioned to some in the family the deaths from the attempted revolution were far higher than the official numbers, and some of those died well after the actual event as the commies ferreted folks out who might have had anything to do with it and either disappeared them, or drummed up charges and got rid of them that way.
    After the wall fell, a friend of my aunt found her family in East Germany and they were still in the same house they were in before the Wall went up and the letters stopped. So he didn’t need to use the Church or hunt around. They said the house was about the only thing the gov’t didn’t take from them, but the house had three families living in it, in part because they had to, and in fear any less and they’d lose it.

    • Like you – I never had the least bit of good feeling towards the various regional flavors of communism. The auntie of my parent’s friends – a Jew who managed to emigrate from Russia in the 70s. College friend – got out of Cuba in the Mariel boatlift, And the various Vietnamese that I got involved in resettling in 1975. Nope – in my life I knew dozens of people who fled from Communism in all of its’ sewage-flavored varieties. Never knew anyone personally who fled towards it. They do exist, I am told. But I never met any of them.

      • Oh, egad
        I forgot the Cuban I knew though he didn’t have as bad a story, his family got out right after Fidel et al showed up so it was just knowing when to get when the gettin was good before everything got locked down.
        But I think it was Bill Whittle who said “What direction are the boats going?(between Cuba and Florida)”

  24. c4c again 😉

  25. “There once was a Marxist called Lenin
    Who did two or three million men in.
    That’s a lot to have done in,
    But where he did one in,
    His follower, Stalin, did ten in.”
    — Robert Conquest

    However, the way I learned it, his full name was Vladimir Ilyitch Ulyanov; “Lenin” was a pseudonym (backward for “nenil,” or “nobody”) used by itself, originally for early propaganda writings, not a surname. I write subject to correction; I know only a few words of Russian.

  26. The problem is that while we have film of the Nazi death camps, we don’t have film of the Gulags. We’ve all heard of Auschwitz…who has heard of Kolyma? Communist = murderer. Period.

    • They can ignore film, when they want to. Even with all the evidence Holocaust Denial is a major industry. Heck, they even deny the moon landings.

      Film of the gulags wouldn’t deter them any more than first hand accounts do.

    • I have thought for a while that the reason people hate the German nation socialists and whitewash the Russian international socialists is because before the depression the German society was indistinguishable from theirs. The Russians had always been near feudal and “Less” than civilized Europeans. So the Germans were more liable than the barbarian Russians in people’s minds.

      The mechanization of death also was large enough to be appalling but small enough to wrap your head around. Starving villages and countrysides was too widespread and big to be seen as as evil.

      As far as I am concerned if the Russians and Germans had swapped sides in WW2 it would have probably been a (slightly) more moral war tbh.

  27. A few quibbles and observations from a guy who had lived the first 30 years of his life in USSR.

    “Well, sometimes they didn’t’ get paid at all, but salaries and resources were largely appropriated (read: stolen) from those considered “rich” who weren’t part of the “more equal among equals”.”

    Throughout most of USSR’s history people did, in fact, get paid regularly. Or rather – they got ‘paid’, as in being given ‘money’ that was not much good for anything, unless one was given access to the goods he could spend this money on. Yes, access to the goods was kinda two-tiered: you had to have money to buy them, and their nominal prices were mostly quite affordable, but there wasn’t much on the stores’ counters. You had to have connections to get to spend your money at the official prices.

    Non-payment of salaries became a thing only in the last 2-3 years of USSR, by which time its money wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on, with or without connections.

    Oh, and by the mid-1930’s there weren’t any ‘rich’ anymore, from whom anybody could ‘appropriate’ anything. So no, after that period there was no more ‘appropriation from the rich’: none were available.

    “Hell, you could buy vodka out of machines on the sidewalk, just as you could water.”

    Hmmm… No. Not anywhere where I lived or traveled to in USSR. Certainly not in Moscow, Leningrad, or other major cities in the 60’s (which I remember only vaguely, having been a small child then), 70’s or 80’s (which I remember very well).

    The massive, ubiquitous, alcohol abuse, though, is quite true.

    “when they couldn’t buy vodka, they used whatever drugs they could get their hands on”

    Mostly, they made moonshine – and a crappy moonshine it usually was, too – or drank ‘technical alcohol’ (stuff used in the industry, often mistaking methyl alcohol for the ‘drinkable’ variety with all the horrific consequences), or various alcohol-based lotions, perfumes, etc. – a whole bunch of which were cheaper in the Soviet stores than vodka, anyway (your guess that a ‘perfume’ that was cheaper than vodka was horrible crap is correct, btw.)

    “My friend had both adenoids and tonsils removed as a child while she was awake and fully conscious.”

    So had I (adenoids). You think that’s bad? Try two root canals without anesthetic. Had that, too.

    BTW, want to know how the nerve is extracted without anesthetic and without the patient going into shock? Simple. First, the root canal is drilled opened. THAT most patients can actually handle without anesthetic. Barely. Then a bit of arsenic (yes, the rat poison) is shoved down into the root canal. Then, it’s capped with a temporary filling. Two days later, you come back with a dead nerve, the temporary filling is removed, the nerve pulled out (see ma, no pain!), and off you go with a new permanent filling, nearly as good as new. Except with the kind of hygiene common in the Soviet medical facilities, you are likely to have that root canal inflame on you later. Mine did – years later, here in the US. Told the story of no-anesthetic root canal to my American dentist. Afterwards, he was giving me looks like I was some psycho he expected to start climbing up the walls any moment. Some people just can’t handle Soviet medicine, even in a story. 🙂

    “Even though party membership was basically mandatory, it wasn’t automatic. If you were considered too bourgeois, or if your family had a history of being trouble for the Party, membership could and would be denied. That meant finding a job could be next to impossible.”

    No. At no moment in the USSR’s history was the Party membership mandatory, basically mandatory, or nearly mandatory. Party members had always been a small minority of the Soviet population.

    However, Party membership WAS mandatory to make a career. You are a freshly minted lieutenant in the Army? No Party membership is necessary. But if you want to ever advance beyond the rank of captain, you better figure out the way to join. You are a freshly graduated engineer? No Party membership is necessary. But if you ever want to become a team lead, or advance to a managerial position – you better figure out the way to join.

    The funny thing is – Party took its self-image of “the Party of the working class” quite seriously, and tried to maintain appropriate balance of members (i.e., majority had to be ‘workers and peasants’, and ‘Soviet intelligentsia’, managerial folks, Army officers – needed to remain a small minority). But people without aspirations to any kind of high career were the least interested in joining the Party. To get the Party perks you had to advance pretty high in the Party hierarchy, and real blue collar workers or peasants stood no chance of that. So, Party had to _beg_ them to become members. Quite often, literally. At the same time, it was beating away folks with higher education and career aspirations with a stick – because there was always a line of those trying to get in, so they could have their professional careers.

    • Alex, I don’t want to argue but the comment about the pay came straight form my friend who grew up there. It is something her family and others suffered.

      As for the vodka machines, I have pictures of them. I’ll need to dig them out. I took them in either Moscow or St. Petersburg, then Leningrad. It is possible it was Kiev but that’s not the way I remember it.

      Again, as for party membership, I have several sources where they were either denied membership or had it stripped. So I will respectfully disagree.

      • Alex Shishkin

        “the comment about the pay came straight form my friend who grew up there. It is something her family and others suffered.”

        I was born in Moscow in 1962, and lived in USSR until it fell apart. Left the country in April 1992. In that period, the only time when non-payment of salaries was systematic was in the last 2-3 years. Before that, it likely happened somewhere, but was by no means systematic or even frequent.

        “As for the vodka machines, I have pictures of them.”

        Would love to see one. Will be the first one for me, after having lived in Moscow for 30 years.

        “Again, as for party membership, I have several sources where they were either denied membership or had it stripped.”

        Never argued with that. Both things happened. What I argued with was the ‘mandatory membership’ statement. At the end, USSR’s population was 291 million. Party membership? Less than 20 million. This is not ‘mandatory’. Like I said: membership was mandatory to make a career. Blue-collar people had absolutely no problem joining (if they weren’t dissidents, of course), but typically had no interest in doing so: it was of no benefit to them.

        • Funny, I grew up there too, and saw the things Amanda describes. I remember wiping out asses with newspapers due to a lack of toilet paper. I remember going across the street to the “zavod” with buckets to get water for the day to dump in our tub so the entire family could bathe and to keep for flushing. I remember as a kid seeing a guy purchase a bottle of beer out of a red vending machine and my friends and me finding that bottle standing in the corner of a concrete landing a bit later, grabbing it, and sharing it among us.

          Being a member of the party was mandatory to have any kind of life, and no, it wasn’t easy. You had to prove your non-bourgeois cred. I remember my dad’s friend not getting paid for months, but when we came over to their house, they still managed to put out their best spread (салат оливье, малосольные огурчики, etc.) His wide was still getting paid at that point, but it wasn’t enough to support their family.

          And there were “rich” – ABSOLUTELY! Everything was relative, of course, and by our standards it was a shit life, but there were those who could afford toilet paper. There were those who could afford an apartment, while others crowded into a place with several other families or parents and grandparents. There were those who had cars, who could afford nice clothes (or at least nicer than what the rest of us had), who could take a vacation to Odessa or Карпаты every so often.

          Just because YOU personally didn’t experience this, doesn’t mean others did not. If you left the cities and hung out in the country or smaller towns every so often, you’d see what Amanda describes. It was miserable.

          And by the way, it’s not a contest. Having your teeth pulled without anesthesia doesn’t trump having your tonsils snipped out without anesthesia. I’ve had both. So have my parents. My mom opted to have an abortion rather than bring another child into that hell, so please stop with the “my pain was worse than yours” crap.

          • Alex Shishkin

            First off, the ““my pain was worse than yours” crap” does not exist in my comments. Please stop imagining things. And especially, please stop ascribing fruits of your imagination to me.

            Second, please provide ANY evidence of ‘vodka vending machines’ ANYWHERE in Russia in 1970’s, 80’s, or 90’s. Just in case I was having an early onset of dementia, I went and asked half a dozen people of my age and older (mid-fifties to mid-sixties), who lived in various areas of USSR, from Leningrad, to Magnitka, to Norilsk, to Kiev, to small provincial towns. NOT ONE remembers anything of the sort. The closest the older ones remember were beer and wine vending machines in some resort towns on the Black Sea in late 50’s – early 60’s. Which, by the way, went away by 1970’s.

            To anybody who remembers USSR of that period, the very idea sounds insane: such a vending machine, even if constructed form armor steel, would not have survived ONE NIGHT on the street of the average Soviet town: it would have been gutted, and all vodka stolen. Not to mention other multiple reasons why it wasn’t really possible.

            Third, “being a member of the party was mandatory to have any kind of life” is an idiotic lie. Period. Dot. A blue-collar worker with good skills who earned three times as much as I did in an engineering position – had absolutely NO need to join the Party to have his life. In fact, usually the local Party boss was pestering such worker trying desperately to GET him to join the Party – and was routinely blown off with the Russian analog of ‘oh, go fuck yourself, man’ (да пошёл ты на хуй, мудак, взносы вам платить низахуй – я лично наблюдал) – with no adverse consequences to such worker. As I have stated above, joining the Party was mandatory ONLY if one had aspirations of a professional or government career. If in your mind a professional or government career is the only way “to have any kind of life”, I suggest that you check your prejudices about blue-collar professions.

            Fourth, the post stated that USSR kept surviving by ‘appropriating from the rich’. No, after approximately 1930’s there weren’t any ‘rich’ you could ‘appropriate’ anything from to keep the country going. What YOU are describing as ‘rich’ were just people who were marginally less poor. Yes, they existed, but there was nothing the state could ‘appropriate’ from them to keep going. So this whole narrative is factually wrong, period.

            Fifth, yes, I did “leave the cities and hung out in the country or smaller towns ever so often”. So please lay off of “you haven’t been there, so you can’t know” narrative. Yes, I have, and yes, I do, in fact, know.

            Nobody here is arguing that life in the USSR WASN’t crap. But one doesn’t have to invent crap out of whole cloth to prove that it was. It was bad enough without having to talk about ‘mandatory’ membership in organization which never had more than 10% of the country’s citizens as its members.

            • Fruit of my imagination, heh?

              OK, dick wart. What’s this from your initial comment?

              “So had I (adenoids). You think that’s bad? Try two root canals without anesthetic.”

              You are a lying sack of shit and anything else you say is suspect.

              “I had different experiences, and therefore anything you say is a lie,” bullshit won’t fly. Neither will claiming you talked to your copious friends.

              Hell, you can’t even ko your stories straight about what you did and did not say on this very blog!

              So, I cordially invite you to feast on a satchel of dropping phalli.

              • In lieu of a like button:

              • heh, you know, I got these same sorts of replies when I mentioned the people I knew who would dispute Kerry’s comments about Vietnam “re-education” being not so bad.
                “Ha! Prove it.” they say, and phone numbers to a survivors business with his name was certainly not proof. Why would they believe someone who actually was there suffering.
                Went through the same thing when they talk about those without insurance dying because the ER refused to see them when they had something. They knew someone, who said someone they knew, knew someone, somewhere, who mentioned they would refuse to help you, so it must be true. Facts are you walk into an ER with stomach pain and do not have insurance they ask if you can pay an up front fee or do they get a social worker in for 10-15 minutes more paperwork (not an obvious life threatening situation yet) and then they MRI to ensure it isn’t appendicitis, and give you antibiotics, a prescription, then send you on your way. I know this because this happened to me.
                But you go to a gov’t run clinic (say, Charity in N.O. and the clinics in Houma and Independence Louisiana) you sit an hour or so, waiting for them to even bother to triage you, and even if it is a possible heart attack, you sit waiting for the doc like waiting at the DMV for a title issue, though the DMV doesn’t often take 10 hours to see you. Yes, I sat with a girlfriend in Charity for 7 hours while the old lady in front of us popped nitro pills like tic-tacs. The lady got there a few hours after my girlfriend, who waited from 8am until midnight to see a doc for tonsillitis so bad that was restricting her breathing. She was a ward of the state, she turned 18 and the home’s insurance didn’t cover her any longer, so it was the state’s clinic she HAD to go to or be responsible to pay for the bills while still in High School. Reason she still had her tonsils after a history of trouble was the state’s required insurance for the home (run by a baptist church) did not allow the operation at all, but it did cover birth control!
                They took the old lady back finally, and the Doc for the lady came and told the family that they were giving the lady oxygen, and putting her in a room for the night.

                What do we know? We were there.

                • Alex Shishkin

                  Precisely. I was there, and this is a reply I get. Well… Not worth my time.

                  • Alex, I think you are missing the point where both sides in this discussion are arguing from personal experience. Yours versus the direct personal experience of others, whose recollections cannot be reconciled with your own.

                    In such instance there is no basis for neutral observers to weigh the merits of the evidence. There can be no “winner” in this argument, there can only be losers.

                    Resorting to personal attacks, as both sides have done, does nothing to resolve the contradiction. Even posting pictures would not be dispositive because all know pictures can be “adjusted.”

                    Sometimes the only choice is to say “I cannot agree with you” and walk away from the dispute. Further wrestling simply eaves all in doubt as to which is the pig.

                    • Alex Shishkin

                      I don’t have a problem with people arguing from personal experience – as long as they don’t forget that that’s what they are doing, and do not try to pass their personal experience off as something that was universal.

                      Pretty much everything I originally disagreed with, however, can be independently checked and verified. About the only exception is systematic non-payment of salaries – which I ‘d be perfectly willing to back off of, and ascribe the difference of opinions to difference in personal experiences.

                      Yes, I should not have responded to being accused of lying with a reciprocal personal insult. Not that that was uncalled for, but it certainly did not serve any useful purpose.

                      For that, I apologize.

                      The rest, however, I consider important. Not because any of the particular data points are all that critical by themselves – USSR was a s*hole with or without vodka vending machines, with or without mandatory Party membership, etc. – but because people who weren’t there, who don’t know any better, but who are both interested in the subject _and_ capable of using internet searches to verify claims – these people, after catching the narrator in such trifling inaccuracies, will doubt the rest of the narrative and will be easier prey to Bernies of the world.

                      It is, IMO, very dangerous to allow such ‘fake, but accurate’ data points to creep into the story. We really should leave that practice to Dan Rather.

                  • You are not worth ours, certainly.
                    See, you’re apologizing for the place, and denying those who were certainly there and what they personally experienced.
                    As your methods ring through as being suspect, why should anyone believe your denial? You come across as a typical person arguing against facts, with need to ignore them to be successful. You’ve tried to be a “Topper”, denied doing so, and you ring all the bells of being disingenuous, so I will take the experience of those I know who were there over some random anonymous person who comes across as either not having been there for real, or for whatever reason, is acting to cover over the reality for your own reasons.
                    Especially when I get stories like Nikki’s from more people over the years, who were there, and don’t know one another, whereas I get apologist versions like yours from people who always seem tied to certain organizations and affiliations.

                    • Alex Shishkin

                      “See, you’re apologizing for the place”

                      Please, kindly provide ONE direct quote from any of my comments which can possibly be interpreted as ‘apologizing for USSR’, or ‘apologizing for Communism’. I’ll wait.

                      Oh, wait: you can’t. I’ve said nothing of the sort. You CHOSE to interpret my words this way, because I disagreed with somebody you know. Without, again, ANY factual basis in those words for such an interpretation.

                    • It’s funny how he’s all about personal experience…but shut up, his is TOTALLY better than yours, and incidentally is totally Rebok flyer.

              • Alex Shishkin

                I see. Having nothing to say about any factual claims in the text, you continue interpreting personal experience stories the way you want to interpret them.

                Fine with me. My credibility in your eyes is worth less to me than last year raccoon’s dump on my porch, now that you have proven to my satisfaction that you are nothing more than a butt-hurt spinner of fairy tales.

                Have fun telling your tales to people who don’t know any better. As far as I go, you are not worth one more second of my time. Bye.

            • First off, the ““my pain was worse than yours” crap” does not exist in my comments. Please stop imagining things.

              Often, I think Nicki over-reacts.

              In this case, I’d ask permission to hold her coat and want to know why she was being so restrained.

              Your first comment was rather off– this one? Uh, dude, you REALLY chose the wrong tactic, and now I’m pretty sure you’re full of it.

              • Alex Shishkin

                Mmm… And an opinion of somebody who wouldn’t be able to tell fact from fairy tale on the subject discussed if her life depended on it should matter to me …. how, exactly?

                No matter. Since actual provable facts of Soviet life don’t seem to matter here, I can’t possibly say anything worthy of your attention anyway. Have fun listening to fairy tales. I won’t bother you with facts any more.

                • Alex, the problem is, you seem to believe that only what you remember are actual facts. You dismiss out of hand what others experienced. You did begin the “I suffered more than you” with Nicki. Then you dismissed much of what anyone who dared disagree with you said. It amazes me you think there were no “rich” in the Soviet Union. But that’s fine. It is what you believe and I’m not going to be able to change your mind. You say we ignore facts — sorry, but that doersn’t fly. We might not agree with what you remember about the USSR, but we aren’t ignoring facts. One this is clear. You aren’t interested in a discussion. You are only interested in making sure we accept the story as you tell it. Since that’s not the way things work here — Sarah has never wanted anyone to blindly follow what she, any of her guest bloggers or those who comment on her blog say — there’s the door. Don’t let it hit you on your way out.

                  • Alex Shishkin

                    The problem is, Amanda, that everything I said is actually easily verifiable. Especially, but not exclusively, to somebody who knows Russian. With ONE possible exception I will readily admit: the systematic non-payment of salaries. Never seen any reliable year-by-year data on that published anywhere. So this one – I am perfectly willing to back off of, and ascribe to difference in personal experience.

                    Everything else, however, is not ‘belief’. It is objectively verifiable.

                    Please remember, that the description of root canals without anesthesia was in my comment to YOU, not Nicki. All I was doing in that paragraph was agreeing with you, and providing one more data point _entirely in agreement with your narrative_. Somehow, a person the comment was never addressed to and never mentioned, overtly or in a hint (not surprisingly, as I don’t know her from Adam), took this paragraph as an attempt to one-up HER with my ‘suffering’. Once again: I was not talking to her, I didn’t even know of her existence, I was simply adding one more similar personal experience to your description of Soviet medicine with which I was agreeing.

                    How on Earth is this ‘me beginning ‘I suffered more than you’?!

                    And I especially love this invitation to go to Hell and not bother you with facts and opinions you do not want to accept – paired with telling _me_ that it is _I_ who is obviously not interested in discussion. Wow. That takes the cake.

                    • Alex, not once have I suggested you go to Hell. You tell others not to put words in your mouth, I suggest you practice what you preach. I simply said not to let the door hit you on the way out. Big difference.

                      You keep saying everything you say is fact. Yet you offer no cites. You offer anecdotes. Are we to accept every word out of your mouth, without those cites as fact and yet you aren’t required to do the same? Isn’t that a bit of a double standard?

                      I haven’t dismissed what you’ve said. I have said others had different experiences. I’ve suggested that maybe your experiences aren’t universal. I continue to say that just because you don’t remember something or didn’t experience it yourself doesn’t mean it didn’t exist.

                      Now, I have to wonder why you are spending so much time trying to denigrate what Nicki and I, as well as others here, have had to say. You commented earlier that since we weren’t interested in what you had to say, you’d shut up (or words to that effect). If you really feel that way, why are you still commenting?

                    • Considering that Portugal is a much smaller country, and yet I experienced things no other Portuguese of my generation experienced and vice versa, his idea that only his experiences count seems…. misguided at best. Certainly not worth defending to the knife, as he’s doing.

                    • the problem is…


                      “Beer and wine vending machines”

                      maybe not vodka, but there was alcohol.

                    • And that back in the 60s and 70s.

                • Mmm… And an opinion of somebody who wouldn’t be able to tell fact from fairy tale on the subject discussed if her life depended on it should matter to me …. how, exactly?

                  *snorts* Oh, good grief. What are you, a ten year old that thinks he’s Machiavelli? I got better attempts at a devastating take down in junior high.
                  All you managed to do is establish that yes, you are in fact a liar who was doing exactly what she called you out on.

                  • Wasn’t he supposed to have rage flounced out of there by the time he posted his last comment? LOL!

                  • Alex Shishkin

                    “I got better attempts at a devastating take down in junior high.”

                    No doubt. Too bad that’s ALL you’ve got so far.

                    • Too bad that’s ALL you’ve got so far.

                      True, I do wish you would bother with some sort of actual rational response– but eh, not my monkeys, not my circus. I can’t make you even manage better than junior high trolling, much less behave like a decent, rational addition to the conversation.

  28. Quick nit: here’s the thing about Potsdam. The war was over at that point, and the Soviets already had Eastern and Central Europe very thoroughly under their thumb, Yugoslavia and Greece being the only exceptions. The worst you can say about the Western Allies was that they legitimized the Soviet occupation, instead of telling them that while they might not be able to pry them out of the area, they certainly weren’t going to say it was just fine.

    • the Soviets already had Eastern and Central Europe very thoroughly under their thumb,

      If they were willing to scorch their earth in retreat, what would they have been willing to do to East Germany, Poland, the Balkans and etc.?

      And we know who the people of those occupied nations would have blamed.

      • Plus, most planners didn’t know about the bomb, and those who did had no idea if it would actually cause Japan to surrender.
        So, making nice to Stalin so that he would help with the fight against the fanatical Japanese was a big consideration- and Stalin knew it. We needed him more than he needed us.

        • At Potsdam, they didn’t know for sure if it would function as they thought. Truman was at another meeting with Stalin and Churchill. and supposedly said “The d*mn thing works” when told of the Trinity test.

          • Blinks.
            You know, one big reason Progressives criticize the US for using nuclear weapons in Japan may be because it prevented Stalin from pulling a Potsdam in Japan.

            • The USSR did get an occupation zone in “Japan” – the northern half of Korea, which had been part of the Japanese Empire. Thus the creation of North Korea.

    • Quick Nit, Part Duex: Postdam codified a situation outlined at Tehran.

    • Actually, no, especially where the then Czechoslovakia is concerned. British and American troops were held outside of towns and delayed liberating them because it had been agreed the Russians would be allowed to do so. I’ve spoken with people who were alive then and remember waiting and wondering why our troops didn’t move in when they could be seen camped nearby. The Czechs waited — US, British and Soviet flags at the ready — to see who would move in and which flag they needed to show from their windows to welcome their “liberators”. So, while Potsdam may have formalized the Soviet territory, we had already given it over to them.

      I’ll admit the Czech situation is one I’m particularly sensitive to because I have friends who were lucky enough to escape the Soviet occupation and yet lost family who didn’t. As I said, I’ve spoken with Czechs while there and have seen the photos they had — and had hidden for years — showing US or British troops just across a river or a field but not moving in because we’d signed their country over to Stalin.

    • For a fairly readable AU on how prying Stalin out could have worked, you might like this one:

  29. Here’s an essay on Liberty Under the Soviets, by ACLU co-founder Roger Baldwin. The book was published in 1928, after Baldwin had toured the USSR, and it is truly weird.

    Throughout the book, Baldwin frankly described the USSR as a police-state dictatorship, with suffocating censorship, arbitrary arrests and executions by the brutal secret police, and savage repression of dissent. And throughout the book, he insisted that it doesn’t matter, because socialism.

    Baldwin remained a loyal apologist for the USSR until 1940, when he did a 180, and led a public purge of of all Communists in the ACLU.

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  31. I discovered in 6th grade that communists lie. This information arrived via World Book Encyclopedia which contained a handy little chart showing what we meant by a phrase or word and what the USSR meant. As an example, we meant “peaceful coexistence” when we said “peaceful coexistence” but the Russians meant “waiting for us to be weak enough, or for themselves to be strong enough to win.”

    After that, I read a lot about the USSR including several books. I remember one in particular, “The Russians” by Hedrick Smith who was a reporter for the New York Times, and who lived in Moscow for quite a while. The impression I formed from that book was of a gray, sad country. This impression was so firmly ingrained that when I watched a program on TV many years later, and the countryside was beautiful and vivid, I was actually surprised by how green the grass was.

    But no matter what, I will never ever forget that commies, no matter where they live, always lie. They have to. It’s the only way they can sell their snake oil to the ignorant.

  32. I discovered in 6th grade that communists lie. This information arrived via World Book Encyclopedia which contained a handy little chart showing what we meant by a phrase or word and what the USSR meant. As an example, we meant “peaceful coexistence” when we said “peaceful coexistence” but the Russians meant “waiting for us to be weak enough, or for themselves to be strong enough to win.”

    After that, I read a lot about the USSR including several books. I remember one in particular, “The Russians” by Hedrick Smith who was a reporter for the New York Times, and who lived in Moscow for quite a while. The impression I formed from that book was of a gray, sad country. This impression was so firmly ingrained that when I watched a program on TV many years later, and the countryside was beautiful and vivid, I was actually surprised by how green the grass was.

    But no matter what, I will never ever forget that commies, no matter where they live, always lie. They have to. It’s the only way they can sell their snake oil to the ignorant.

    • Smith’s book was very good. I read it when it first came out. Your impression of cities in the USSR was fairly accurate. In a lot of ways, it felt as if the soul had been sucked out of the country.

  33. I count myself lucky I went there before 1991 and went back a few times after that. It was so much better – virtually overnight. Hope had died there.

  34. (This is my very first comment here, although I’ve been following this blog and the inimitable Mistress Hoyt for a while)

    This is a topic near and dear to me, as I was born and raised in the USSR. “The State and the Revolution” is indeed an important book. It contains the seeds that have bloomed into the full-blown “real socialism”.

    However, to truly understand the path that starts with Marx and ends with Gorbachev, another book is much better. I beseech everyone to read “Nomenklatura: The Soviet Ruling Class” by Voslensky ( ).

    This book explains how an obviously failing by the end of the 19th century Marxist theory was revived by Lenin in a thoroughly corrupted state, to justify the naked lust for power.

    It further explains how Stalin built on Lenin’s foundation to establish a disguised feudalism with himself as god-king.

    And finally it shows the entire momentum coasting to a disgusting stop in the swamp of the Brezhnev’s times.

    Anyone interested in the history of Soviet Union, Marxism or communism really should read this book.

    (I do find the original Russian edition to be better, plus it’s available as a free download. But English is great too)

    Amanda, there are a couple of nits/clarifications I’d like to pick/offer:

    One is about unemployment. It was actually almost true: there was no unemployment in the USSR. That’s because having no job was a crime. You could get arrested and jailed for being a “tooneyadetz”. Some informal exceptions existed for the wives of important people. All others had to work.

    The “make-work” jobs you’ve mentioned were actually the most benign manifestation of this coercion. More to the point, huge industrial centers and “collective farms” were staffed with people who were getting barely enough money to survive, but had to keep working and producing for the State because the alternative would be not just to go hungry, but to go to jail. USSR’s economy was based on forced labor even outside of the camps.

    Another nit is about the role of the Party in USSR.

    By itself, being the Party member did not mean much in the way of material benefits. Plain regular party members were standing in the same lines and getting the same ghastly “consumer goods”. The point of the party membership was not better life.

    The point was, of course, making a carrier. Even first-level managers were, by preference, recruited from party members. To go above that required the Party membership. So if you had aspirations to advance (not to advance in the Party, just get any kind of managerial position at all), party membership was a really good idea.

    If you actually advanced, you’d get to the better life eventually. But the vast majority of the party members were dead-enders whose carriers stalled or never took off in the first place.

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