Soviet Union - Communism we don't want

Some people think Stalin's Russia can be used as example against our own society. I don't agree and two discussions on the Flemish radio explained well how certain people in Russia (but also in other countries) think positively about communist Soviet Union because they selectively use its history against greed in our capitalist society. It is good that people want a better society but they should use better examples than the Soviet Union if they want that people take them serious. I believe in a social democracy that helps people who need help while the wealthy can pay for themselves and whereby taxes should be as low as possible and sometimes selective but everyone needs to pay them according what they earn and the wealthy are proud to show their wealth by contributing to a healthy society via paying their taxes instead of escaping to financial paradises. Still, people who invest their own money in companies should not be punished by having to pay taxes. Below I explain what was discussed but in such a manner I include some of my own comments as I lived throughout part of the Cold War when many people lived in fear of the Soviet Union.

100 years after the Russian Revolution, an event that not only changed Russia's history but also world history, there was an interesting discussion on the Flemish radio. Communism continued a social revolution that started earlier during the French Revolution, both revolutions started the final days of autocratic kingdoms. Indeed, as the author Karl Marx rightly stated, capitalism becomes eventually so selfish and greedy that it will destroy itself from within. However, the author didn't foresee (I think) that communism can also be abused as happened in the past and even today to block democratic reforms with the argument that the government knows best what people want. The radio programs discussed Soviet's excesses and tried to explain from the past why President Putin may win probably for the final time the Russian presidential elections. It's important for (young) people in the West to hear these discussions to understand why they shouldn't claim that Stalin's Russia can be used as an example because it shows they don't know history or worse, they are selective in what they choose. But it is right to think as Karl Marx that a classless society in which everyone has equal chances to fulfil their dreams without claiming everyone is the same or will achieve their dream, is a society we should try to achieve.

The Soviet Union, ones the largest country in the world

Indeed, Stalin was an opportunist and it seems even Lenin didn't like him but was unable to stop him succeeding him. Many claim Stalin's Soviet Union won in WWII and thus he is a good person. However, Stalin and Hitler were originally allies and only because Hitler hated communism, he attacked the Soviet Union and thus Stalin had to change alliances; if Hitler hadn't attacked the Soviet Union and thus Stalin had continued to support Hitler, the outcome of the war would have been completely different. Stalin had to join the Western allies against the Third Reich and thus, although we should recognise the many sacrifices Soviet Union's people made to stop Hitler (including Stalin's order that Russians should remain at their place and if they left they would be shot to kill by their own soldiers) while the Western allies were often hesitant to help Stalin, still Stalin forced President Roosevelt and PM Churchill to agree that after the war certain countries would fall under the rule of the Soviet Union.

This outcome, as discussed during the program, had consequences up to our days. Many Russians, certainly the older generation, speak positively about Stalin because, as in the time of the tsars, he increased Russia's influence in the world by centralizing powers in Moscow and using force within the Soviet Union as well as in its influence sphere that resulted in millions of people, some claim up to 30 million, being prosecuted, imprisoned, killed or starved to death. It's difficult to understand how the older generation has forgotten the poverty whereby the government forced people to work in communities where they were underpaid, had to queue for food and clothes sold at state-owned shops and couldn't travel while an elite had everything although even they were not sure they may survive Stalin's time. Indeed, this communism was capitalism at its most extreme where an elite rather starved their own people by industrialising the economy and selling its food to foreign countries than to feed them (similar situation in Mao's communist China).

However, many Russians despise Presidents Gorbachev and Jeltsin because Russians say these presidents destroyed Russia's might that resulted in poverty while today they celebrate President Putin because he is a strong personality who doesn't like opposition and use aggression if needed to increase Russia's influence. But Russians should celebrate President Gorbachev. Indeed, he brought necessity reforms to his country whereby people suffered but this was the result of decades of mismanagement by previous Russian governments. He allowed the collapse of the Soviet Union with few deaths in contrast to other rulers who may have used force to try to prevent the collapse of their empire. But I never really liked President Jeltsin as he was an opportunist who acted against the person who discovered him while discovered Vladimir Putin who started his rise to (absolute) power.

One example in the program is both funny and tragic in its stupidity. A man is tortured by police only years ago. Still, he doesn't blame the police under the current president but blames presidents Gorbachev and Jeltsin by claiming that, if Mr Putin had been president at that time, the Soviet Union may not have collapsed and his torture may not have happened. But it is more likely police under President Gorbachev didn't torture.

And thus, people forget their own suffering when a tough leader can increase the influence of the country, even when few people benefit from it. But, it's not only in Russia. An example is Spain or the UK where quite a large number of people don't accept the decision of a democratic vote and rather abandon democracy than split, even when the region will not move to another location after the split. Throughout history, people endured wars to remain together while, whenever the time has come, countries will fall apart as the Soviet Union demonstrated. But, if people don't accept this, often evil rose such as Hitler, Stalin, Mao, ... whose nationalism introduced a centralised government and if possible expansion of the territory. Today, again nationalism in the world is rising, a nationalism that is not happy with (changes to) its borders. And thus tensions are rising because people fear their neighbours or their own capital.

For the music lovers, Sting's song "Russians" (1985) in which he sings "I hope the Russians love their children too" shows very well the fear of Westerners for the then Soviet Union.

Sometimes it is unbelievable how an older generation becomes like dinosaurs, unable to adjust to changing times and therefore may cry for the many things they may lose by continuing to defend the achievements of the past and not believe in the changes of the future (e.g. new borders, renewables or health apps that partially replace doctors). Also the opposite, the youth and progressives who continue to embrace the new developments, start to lose patience with an older generation of whom many don't seem to be able to include these changes in their lives and therefore take power in order to stop the necessary changes that may bring a brighter future.


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