Tuesday, June 21, 2011

On the collapse of the Soviet Union

Everything You Think You Know About the Collapse of the Soviet Union Is Wrong
Every revolution is a surprise. Still, the latest Russian Revolution must be counted among the greatest of surprises. In the years leading up to 1991, virtually no Western expert, scholar, official, or politician foresaw the impending collapse of the Soviet Union, and with it one-party dictatorship, the state-owned economy, and the Kremlin's control over its domestic and Eastern European empires. Neither, with one exception, did Soviet dissidents nor, judging by their memoirs, future revolutionaries themselves. When Mikhail Gorbachev became general secretary of the Communist Party in March 1985, none of his contemporaries anticipated a revolutionary crisis. Although there were disagreements over the size and depth of the Soviet system's problems, no one thought them to be life-threatening, at least not anytime soon.

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  1. A little off topic but...

    Speaking of the Soviet Union, I can understand to some extent the anti-russian sentiment that existed and to some extent still exists in the US and by association the knee-jerk anti-communist sentiment of the cold war; I have to say though that I am continually surprised at how communism is viewed by Americans today.

    It seems it is widely viewed as an evil idea, routinely classed with fascism and dictatorships and generally seen as anti-freedom etc.
    The odd thing is (I admit to not have a thorough knowledge of communism) that communism seems, at least in pure idealogical terms, to be seeking total freedom. While I have my doubts that it is a system that can actually work in practice, I can't understand why it is seen as intrinsically evil/immoral/anti-freedom.
    I realise that propaganda engines have been burning the midnight oil for decades on promoting the notions of capitalism to the level of religion in the US. Perhaps it just disappoints me that so many people will swallow the propaganda whole.

    The tea-party trades heavily on this "I ain't no socialist" sentiment. It seems that all that is required in US politics to render conservative voters allergic to a policy is to vaguely imply that it is socialist.

    I found myself wondering recently if perhaps Americans are subject to even more indoctrination than I previously presumed.
    Is the topic of communism discussed in American schools, and if so; is it portrayed in the way most people in the states seem to see it?

  2. Is the topic of communism discussed in American schools, and if so; is it portrayed in the way most people in the states seem to see it?

    I went to some pretty good schools in the 70s, and I don't recall Marx, the Soviet Union, China or anything else about communism or socialism were ever even mentioned.

  3. I guess that leaves popular media as the educational source. Come to think of it, that would explain a lot.

    I feel fairly safe in asserting that few poeple of the "commie bastard!!!" persuation read a whole lot of books on the topic.
    I'm thinking here of the tea party member of the "whut'cha readin' for?; you can jus' flick on the toob." variety (a la bill hicks)

  4. In Ireland, there was a silly women on the radio this morning giving "pupils are instructed on the evils of communism" as an example of the virtues of roman catholic religious education. I can't find a link but I wouldn't be surprised if the communism is 'discussed' in roman catholic run Irish schools (which are for the vast majority of schools in Ireland). But even so, Ireland doesn't have the same fear and loathing of Communism that seems present in popular American culture.


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